Sergio Garcia made three birdies in a row around the turn to open up a one-shot lead during day one of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
The Spaniard was a winner last time out at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by his own foundation and is now looking for a first Rolex Series victory at Gary Player Country Club.
He is a two-time winner of this event before it joined the European Tour schedule and five birdies in his first 12 holes moved him to five under ahead of clubhouse leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
Another Frenchman in Benjamin Hebert was also at four under alongside local favourite Louis Oosthuizen and Australian Jason Scrivener.
Garcia holed a 12-foot right-to-lefter on the first and an 18-footer on the seventh, with a monster putt on the ninth helping him turn in 33 and share the lead.
He had a good look at eagle on the par five tenth but had to settle for a birdie before he holed from the fringe on the 11th to hit the front on his own.
Lorenzo-Vera was in the first group of the day off the tenth and he made birdies on the 13th, second, sixth and ninth.
Hebert also started on the tenth and he was dominating the par fives, making gains on the tenth, 14th and second before adding another on the par three fourth in his first 16 holes.
Oosthuizen birdied the second and fourth and then almost spun his approach into the cup at the sixth for a third gain of the day. An 18-footer on the seventh briefly gave him the solo lead but he gave the shot straight back before birdieing the tenth thanks to a lovely pitch.
Scrivener also had seven holes left with birdies on the tenth, 14th, 15th, first and second and a bogey on the 18th.
China's Wu Ashun was in the clubhouse at three under after a bogey-free 69, with countryman Li Haotong, Finn Mikko Korhonen, Italian Andrea Pavan and England's Andy Sullivan all playing the back nine.
Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy was two under through ten holes, one shot clear of playing partner and defending champion Branden Grace.